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While the upgrade might be the better option for general-purpose Mac computers, I still favour the clean install on dedicated audio and music systems. While wiping and starting again with your day-to-day computing needs is a pain, audio and music workstations tend to have less installed on them in the first place, so there is less to reinstall. And remember, many applications and certainly drivers will need upgrading for Tiger anyway, so why not get a completely clean system while you upgrade with a new OS, application version and drivers?

Just remember to clone the disk when you're finished with a utility like Carbon Copy Cloner www. Unless you plan on using your Mac in multiple languages or require fonts for Chinese, Korean, Arabic, and so on, you can save a considerable amount of space on your hard drive. Generally speaking, I usually leave the family of printer I use myself, such as HP, and also leave the Gimp drivers required by some applications. In the end, my basic Tiger installation required just 1. After you've installed Tiger, and your Mac boots up for the first time running the new operating system, you'll need to enter the usual registration information and confirm various time, date and network settings.

Users upgrading from a previous version of OS X will notice an Assistant appear so you can confirm your registration information, although it's possible to quit this Assistant application without completing the information if you wish. After this, if you've performed an upgrade rather than a clean install, you might notice your hard drives spinning away rather feverishly; this is due to the new Spotlight feature that basically needs to index your drives before it can work.


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I didn't see a way of skipping this step, but you can check on the progress by clicking the Spotlight icon at the top right of the menu bar. Spotlight can be useful, so your patience will be rewarded. Rather than providing this solution such that each application developer has to rewrite their software to support it individually, Apple have elegantly implemented a new type of audio device that can be created by users from the Audio MIDI Setup window: the Aggregate device. In computer science, a HAL is a software layer that's created between physical hardware and software running on a system, so that the software can talk to the hardware in a consistent way without having to know the specifics of the actual hardware device.

At the heart of Core Audio, a HAL is used so that no matter what audio hardware device is connected to your Mac and irrespective of its individual features, the device's Core Audio driver allows Core Audio to present the device to an application in exactly the same way as it would any other device. In other words, so long as an application supports Core Audio devices, it doesn't matter which Core Audio device you use: an application won't deal with the act of playing audio out of the built-in headphone port of your Mac or through a USB audio device any differently.

The upper list details the available Aggregate Devices, where you can create new or remove existing Devices, while in the lower part of the sheet you can configure the Structure of the currently selected Aggregate Device. As their name suggests, Aggregate devices simply combine multiple audio devices connected to your Mac as if they were one virtual audio device. So if you have two audio devices connected to your Mac, each offering two inputs and two outputs, you can now create an Aggregate Device in AMS that combines these two devices into one device with four inputs and four outputs. Core Audio, thanks to the HAL, presents an Aggregate Device to an application as if it were any other audio device, so when you select the Aggregate Device in your application, the application essentially thinks it's talking to a device with four inputs and four outputs.

It's also possible for an application to know that it's talking to an Aggregate device, so that it can gather more information about the individual devices in the Aggregate for clocking and other properties, but the basic operation is exactly as described above. Similarly, you remove an Aggregate device by selecting it on this list and clicking the '-' button.

It's worth noting that there's no warning when you do this, or any other way to bring back the Aggregate device afterwards other than by recreating it from scratch.

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The structure or configuration of the currently selected Aggregate Device is shown in the lower part of the Aggregate Device Editor sheet and is a list of the audio hardware available to Core Audio see the screenshot above. To add audio devices to the Aggregate device, you click the Use tick box in the structure list for every audio device you want to include, and as you do this, you'll notice that the number of inputs and outputs changes for the Aggregate device listed in the top part of the sheet.

Each Aggregate device uses one of the included hardware devices for a master clock source, and by default this is usually the clock Mac's built-in audio hardware. However, you can change the clock source by simply clicking the Clock radio button in the structure list for the device whose clock you want to act as the master. If you run into problems with clocking Aggregate devices, you might notice that each device in the structure list also has a Resample option, which performs a sample-rate conversion at the current sample rate that effectively reclocks the incoming audio to the master clock.

One of the neat things about Aggregate devices is that it's possible to create multiple Aggregates on the same system comprising different combinations of the audio devices attached to your computer, for different possible tasks. Aggregate Devices can be selected in applications just the same as any other Audio Device, as you can see here in Apple's Logic Pro 7. At the top of the Audio Devices page in AMS is a section for System Settings where you can choose the audio devices used for the default audio Input and Output by Mac OS X applications that don't specifically let you set which audio devices to use, such as iTunes see the screenshot on page You can also set an audio device to use as the System Output, which is the device through which you'll hear various system sounds, such as alerts and user interface sound effects as configured in the Sound Effects page of the Sound Preference Panel.

While you can select an Aggregate device to be used for either the Default Input and Output, or both, you can't choose an Aggregate device for the System Output — which some might consider a blessing! The Audio Devices page also offers controls for setting various audio device properties, such as master levels, sample rate and bit depth. You can see the properties for an audio device by choosing that device from the 'Properties For' pop-up menu underneath the System Settings section, which lists all Core Audio audio devices — including Aggregate Devices.

If you select an Aggregate, you can modify the structure properties for this device without opening the Aggregate Device Editor sheet by clicking the Configure Device button in the main Audio Devices page instead. While this also opens a sheet, you don't get the option of adding or removing Aggregate devices, which provides a slightly safer way of configuring these devices.

For devices that have their own configuration window or sheet, the Configure Device button will also be visible when that device is selected in the 'Properties For' pop-up menu. You can also select the clock source where the device supports different clock sources underneath the 'Properties For' heading, although this will be greyed out if an Aggregate device is selected — even if the master clock source for that Aggregate device can be selected from different clock sources on the corresponding hardware device.

In this case, you need to switch the Properties back for the individual device before you can change the clock source. Two columns in the lower part of the Audio Devices page show the Audio Input and Audio Output properties for the device selected in the 'Properties For' pop-up menu, both of which are laid out identically. At the top of the pane is a pop-up menu that selects the Stream to be configured. Which brings me to Tiger's Open Audio Library, or OpenAL, is designed to make it easier for developers to add audio to applications, especially where the placement of sound sources is required in a three-dimensional space.

Games are what has really driven OpenAL's development, so that there is a common, OS-level way for developers to provide 3D sound in applications. There have been plenty of non-Apple solutions to this problem, such as Creative Labs' EAX and Microsoft's DirectSound3D technologies, but using these means that developers have to rewrite parts of their code for different platforms.

OpenAL is similar in conception to Open GL Open Graphics Library , a cross-platform standard for 3D graphics that has hardware acceleration support in most graphics cards on the market today. When you want to draw a Cube in OpenGL, for example, the basic code looks the same no matter what computer or graphics hardware you're using.

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In the same way video cards usually offer hardware acceleration for OpenGL, there has also been hardware support for OpenAL in hardware from manufacturers such as Creative Labs and Nvidia. For more information about OpenAL, visit www. In Core Audio speak, each audio Device is regarded as being comprised of multiple audio Streams that deal with how the audio data is passed between the Core Audio driver and the application.

If we run at a sampling rate of Therefore, at The sampling rate and bit depth are described as the Format in Core Audio, and each Stream within a Core Audio Device can theoretically have a different Format. So when writing a Core Audio driver, developers split the different banks of inputs and outputs into different Streams within the single device so that each Stream can contain a different number of channels with a different Format. Underneath the pop-up menu where you select a Stream are two pop-up menus to configure the sampling rate and bit depth for that Stream; however, despite the notional ability for different Streams to have different Formats, changing the format for one Stream will change other Streams to the same Format in most current Core Audio drivers.

Below the Stream parameters in the System Settings is a list of the total input or output channels available with the device, and you'll notice in the screenshot overleaf that the channels that belong to the currently selected Stream are highlighted with a blue background. Depending on the functionality offered by the Core Audio driver, it's possible to change the gain of channels, mute and unmute channels, as well as setting the through option to automatically pass input channels to the corresponding output channels on the audio hardware.

These various options are greyed out when unsupported. Part of what makes it easy for Aggregate devices to be supported in Core Audio is the ability for a single Device to have multiple Streams. For example, if you have two audio Devices each with single input and output Streams, the Aggregate Device will be presented as a single device with two Streams for both input and output: one for each Device. If you create an Aggregate Device with your Mac's built-in audio hardware and a MOTU , for example, you'll end up with a device consisting of six Streams for both input and output.

The only thing to bear in mind is that not all Core Audio Drivers name Streams appropriately, notably those that only contain single streams: in these cases you end up with unhelpful names such as 'Stream n', where n is the number of the Stream in that Device. So far it seems that Tiger has broken fewer music and audio applications and drivers than previous releases; many third-party developers were ready at the release of Tiger to supply the necessary patches and driver updates. Generally speaking, Core MIDI drivers seem unaffected by the move to Tiger, but here's a brief rundown on the current state of Tiger compatibility from various manufacturers at the time of writing mid-May As one would expect or at least hope , Logic v7.

On the hardware side, there has been no mention of driver updates or incompatibilities for Emagic's previous interfaces, but using an MT4 MIDI interface with a laptop running Tiger didn't seem to be a problem. Users of Peak 4. On the plus side, I did successfully install the At the time of writing, M-Audio were verifying compatibility of the company's MIDI and audio devices with Tiger, saying that Tiger-compatible drivers would, where necessary, be available shortly. MOTU's current v1. The only incompatibility with this version is when running with Logic 7. Audiodesk users can download a Tiger-compatible v2.

The company advise that users of Final Scratch v1. A small update is also required for users wishing to perform a clean install of Komplete 2 on Tiger rather than those upgrading to Tiger on a machine that already has Komplete 2 installed and fixes for Audio Units validation errors are apparently on the way for Battery 2 users and those with products based on Kontakt Player, such as Garritan Personal Orchestra. Sibelius claim that all of the company's products have been tested with Tiger and that no serious compatibility problems have been found, with the exception of Sibelius Starclass, which apparently reports problems playing sounds with Quicktime when Adobe's Acrobat Reader v7 is installed.

The solution is to remove version 7 and download and install the older version 6 from www. While Steinberg have yet to comment on testing with the final versions of Tiger, they've indicated in their support forum that Cubase, Nuendo and other products have been tested with pre-release versions of Tiger and seem to be fine. Products that showed problems with the pre-release version of Tiger are Halion Player, the Nuendo Dolby Digital Encoder and the driver for the MI4 audio hardware that's part of the Cubase System 4 bundle.


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Full compatibility information will be available from Steinberg's web site in due course, and the company has also indicated that future Cubase and Nuendo releases will support Quartz 2D to improve graphics performance, which should offer a significant acceleration to the user interface. Panther introduced a way to configure which outputs on your audio devices are assigned to which speakers in audio applications with a single stereo or multi-channel audio output.

This is the Configure Speakers sheet, which is opened from the Configure Speakers button for the currently selected audio device in the 'Properties For' pop-up menu.

While this doesn't have too many uses in programs like Logic that deal with specific input and output audio channels on your hardware, it is useful to know about, since musicians and audio engineers are the ones most likely to need to manage multi-channel audio devices on a Mac. One simple example where Configure Speakers can be useful is with an application like iTunes. Say you have an audio device with eight outputs: by default, iTunes will always play out of the first two outputs, but what if you want to hear to monitor via outputs seven and eight instead?

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The Configure Speakers sheet enables you to specify what outputs on your Audio Device are used by applications that output audio to Mac OS X's stereo or multi-channel speaker arrangement. Notice how multiple Streams can be selected in the upper part of the sheet if the Audio Device has multiple Streams, as you can see here for an Aggregate Device. In the Configure Speakers sheet, if you're using a device with multiple Streams, you enable the Stream with the outputs you want to assign in the upper part of the sheet — in this example, you need to enable the Stream that encompasses outputs seven and eight on your audio device.

Next, in the lower part of the sheet, you'll see a graphical representation of the speaker arrangement Mac OS X applications use when outputing audio, meaning that when an application like iTunes outputs stereo audio, it's this model that's used for the audio output.

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The speakers are labelled with their configuration left front and right front in the case of simple stereo and are positioned in relation to the listener, who is illustrated with a blue dot see the screenshot on the right. Clicking on the speaker button sends white noise to that speaker until you click it again, and you can set which output on your audio device is used for this speaker in the pop-up menu below that speaker.

In this example, you'd select '7' in the pop-up menu for the left speaker and '8' for the right speaker, and click Apply. All stereo output from basic audio applications that don't specify audio outputs themselves iTunes, Quicktime Player, DVD Player and so on will now take place via outputs seven and eight on your audio hardware.

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Programs that address specific outputs on Core Audio devices, like Logic, will ignore these settings. The process of setting the assignments for applications that output basic multi-channel audio such as DVD Player and the new version 7 Quicktime Player is the same as for stereo configurations.


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In the Configure Speakers tab, click the 'Multi-channel' button and select a multi-channel configuration from the pop-up menu that now appears beside the button. You'll only be able to select multi-channel configurations based on the number of total streams in your audio device, so four speakers will only allow you to set stereo and quadraphonic configurations, for example. As before, getting it all to work is a question of enabling the required Streams at the top of the sheet, selecting the multi-channel configuration from the pop-up menu, and then assigning the outputs on the speakers in the lower part of the sheet.

Apple include many Audio Units with Tiger, most of which are self-descriptively named, as detailed in the following list. You'll notice many Audio Units that don't usually get presented in your Audio Units host applications.

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Audio Units included with Panther are indicated with an asterisk. Audio Units, as the OS X audio plug-in standard, has had a somewhat tumultuous journey compared with other plug-in formats. Developers are continuing to build for Catalyst as many more of your favorite iPad apps will be coming to Mac.